Kabul, now under Taliban control, is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The population of four million people face terrorist attacks, Taliban oppression, and hunger.
Before the Taliban returned, some areas within the city had embraced a more Western way of life, with women eating in restaurants without a male chaperone, girls playing football, and families walking together in the markets and parks. That has all changed now. A woman alone is a target, in fear of arrest or even execution. Journalists are killed just for doing their jobs, so the independent news station is based in a bunker guarded by men with Kalashnikovs. Before the Taliban returned there were 700 female journalists in Kabul. Most of them have fled, but we meet Tuba, a journalist aged 26 who continues to work there, despite facing constant danger.
Those arrested by the Taliban risk public punishments. According to Taliban interpretation of sharia law, someone accused of stealing risks losing a hand. A man accused of being gay risks losing his life. Drug addicts also risk brutal treatment from Taliban enforcers. A few grams of opium costs the same as a pack of cigarettes, and the trade in heroin once financed the Taliban. 10% of the population of Afghanistan are addicted to opium or heroin.
Another danger is speaking English. The Taliban see it as a sign of having collaborated with the enemy. Those who worked for the previous regime are in mortal danger. We meet a judge and a soldier who both helped to ensure the rule of law when the Americans were in Kabul. They will never be safe again.
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